Getting Started with Cutlery

Getting Started with Cutlery

Getting Started with Cutlery

At first, using a knife and fork together can be daunting for little ones. Every child is different, and some may need more time and opportunities to practice before they find their success. 

Most experts recommend introducing cutlery between 10 and 12 months, as your almost-toddler starts to show signs that they're interested. A spoon should be first on your little one's highchair tray. You'll notice your little one will have more success with a fork as her fine motor skills get a little sharper, starting around 15 months.

This however doesn't necessarily mean you have to wait until close to your child's first birthday. You can start to offer a silicone spoon for thick, scoopable foods like yogurt or porridge even sooner — between 6 and 9 months.

Offering preloaded spoonfuls of food for your baby and leaving them on their highchair tray so they can try putting it in their mouth themselves.

Once your little one has found their confidence with pre-loaded spoons, try offering the spoon without food, allowing them to try scooping up the food for themselves. You can then move onto introducing a fork into the mix, and later on a knife too.

Teaching your little one to use cutlery doesn’t have to be tricky. Simply follow these tips and you'll have a cutlery pro in no time!

When it comes to cutlery and tableware, choose carefully - Spoons should have a bowl shape for easy scooping. Handles should be easy to grip. And plates should have high sides to prevent food from easily slipping off.

Think about how they’re sitting – Position and seating are important to make sure your little one is supported and that they have a stable base. Feet should be on their highchair or booster’s footrest. Also make sure they are seated at the right height to be able to reach the table.

Choose the right foods – Not all foods work well when trying to teach your little one how to use cutlery. Choose foods that are soft and easy to scoop, stab and cut. Use a sauce with your rice and pasta to help it stick together and make it easier to scoop. Think about where they are in their development – try cutting foods like bananas or fish sticks before something more difficult like meat. Help your little one by cooking vegetables to make them softer and easier to cut.
Combine finger foods and cutlery – At first, you should resist the temptation to try and have them only use cutlery throughout the meal. It's better to give your little one the independance to go back and forth between finger foods and using cutlery.

Ideas for practicing cutlery skills - Cut up foods like their favourite cheese or cake into smaller pieces. For toddlers you can roll play dough into a snake shape then get them cutting the snake into pieces. Or have a tea party and cut up play dough or real food to serve to dolls and toys.

Ignore the mess – Practicing cutlery skills can get messy. Stressing over this can discourage your little one from trying to do it on their own, try to stay relaxed during the mealtime cutlery use and your little one will feel more eager to give it a try. 

Keep practicing – Learning a new skill takes time – and lots of practice! Repetition will only strengthen your little one's ability to use cutlery. Remember to stay positive and praise them for trying even when they fail.

It’s all about timing – It’s best to try using cutlery when your little one is happy and not too hungry. For example, if breakfast is their favorite meal, it may be a great time to practice. It’s also a good idea to allow them to start off by eating some food without using cutlery so they aren’t too hungry and therefore less likely to want to practice.

Be the example – As always, you are your little one's best example. Use each utensil in the way you want them to use it. Let them see you scoop up food with a spoon or cut up your food into smaller pieces with a knife and fork.

Mastering cutlery is a major mealtime milestone for your little one, but this skill won't develop overnight. Give your little one plenty of opportunities to practice — and plenty of encouragement to keep trying. Before long, the days of spoon-feeding and finger foods will be a hazy memory. We promise!

Our range of Baby Cutlery Sets have been designed and developed with Gill Rapley, Inventor of Baby Led Weaning to aid independent self feeding & Tracey Murkett, co-author of "Baby Led Weaning - an essential guide"